So you have new Christians in your church. How do we go about teaching them to worship? Jesus told us to teach them to obey all all he commanded. Paul was called to bring people to obedience that comes from faith. But what about teaching to worship. Should it just come naturally? You don't really find worship outside the church. How do we answer the questions why do you raise your hands or something about the visible signs, but worship is more than this, it is about our very hearts surrendered to God. What are the important bits? Our corporate expressions of worship should just be the tip of the iceberg of a life of worship, so we should not just be teaching them about what to do when the worship band are playing but discipling them in a lifestyle.

Your thoughts??

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Wow, what a great topic, Mark! And one that is very dear to my heart.

My short answer would be yes, worship does come naturally. God created us with this innate drive to worship. Everyone worships something/someone, whether they are aware of it or not. The big difference between the believer and nonbeliever is in where we place our worship: in God or in....? That being said, I think you are really asking how we initiate the new believer into the worship of their new Saviour and Lord.

The best way, I believe is "caught" rather than "taught". That means we must model what we desire to see in others. As worship leaders, or lead worshipppers, what we do - on and off the platform - is what will be the benchmark for the worship of the congregation God has placed in our charge. God has placed us in a position of authority & responsibility (gasp!) and just like people will look to the pastor, deacons/elders for cues and clues how to respond to situtations, they will be looking to us. If we truly believe that worship is a lifestyle, then our lifestyle better reflect worship! If we want our church to be open and expressive and lavish in their love-expression toward God, then we will need to be open and expressive and lavish too. Our reaction to the person in the front row who breaks out into a new form or worship or sings loudly off key, or claps out of sync (etc) will tell everyone else how they should respond too.

We need to talk about our worship (and our worship style) in easy conversations. Sometimes we can make a few comments/brief explanation from the platform regarding a particular activity/song, etc during a corporate worship service,but that is only the surface. We need to circulate books, magazines, etc that have spoken to us. We need to share our experiences not only with our band members, but with all who will give us a listening ear. That means breaking out of our cliques during coffee hour and mixing it up at other fellowship functions. You need to be accessible, especially to new believers so they can ask you questions.

Maybe it means writing articles for the church's newsletter or website. Perhaps you can conduct a bible study group or seminar/worshop - although with these I have found you're usually "preaching to the choir". If your funds permit, maybe you want to invite an "expert" in to conduct a worship seminar. Or better yet, why sponsor someone to go to a worship conference with you? Don't send them alone, but go as a friend and a guide and be prepared to discuss what they see and hear.

Our church teaches our worship style & philosophy as part of the new believer's/membership class. Usually by the time they take this class, the people have already decided if they "like what they see", but we've found that by articulating our worship style and philosophy and by giving the Biblical background for our decisions, we have really helped to clarify some things.

Looking forward to hearing what other's do and think...
If the songs done used in church are addressed to God, I think it becomes quite obvious to the newbies what they are doing. :)

And as I said in my most recent blog post,

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. (Psalm 69:30-31, NIV)

Yes, our songs are even more pleasing to God than the burnt offerings Noah brought to God. Do we realize that? Do we really believe that? Do we know that in the depths of our heart? I don't think we have any clue about this at all.

If we did we would be singing our hearts to God any and every chance we get.

If we did we'd never say things like "worship is not JUST songs". Being frank with you, that's despising and making light of something God delights in.

More on that topic within the blog post itself. Just wanted to chime in on this bit... :)
I noticed in our congregation, there isn't really a need to teach new Christians how to worship. They just do what they see others doing. They may need to be taught about worship from the Bible i.e. entering into the presence of a Holy God in worship (from the outer courts into the Holy of Holies), coming before Him with clean hands and a pure heart (eg. Ps 24:3-4) and other topics to help them understand the whole area of worship. This will also help them with their personal worship.

But I do agree that worship is much more than this. Yes, God delights in our worship and our songs, but He delights in receiving it from hearts that are fully surrendered to Him, from lives that are lived in obedience to His Word and commands, not by virtue of how worthy or good we are because we are not, but by virtue of us seeking to please Him with the way we live our lives...as you rightly put it, "a life of worship". This, I believe, is more important.

So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:15-17 (NKJV)
Mark, generally people who have recently come to Christ have often just been through a crisis of some sort; struggling with sin, struggling with acceptance, worried about eternity, or something else just as gripping. Often their prayer of repentance was an emotional time, and they have a very clear picture of how much they love what Jesus has done for them.

Rather than pour on all kinds of "technical" teaching at a time like this, I would rather the honeymoon, if you will, continue for a while. So I would think that if we as mature believers provide a worship experience that is very real and focused on our devotion to our Lord, the new Christians will gladly jump right in. In a way, they're just aching for a way to be in touch with the God who has just done so much for them.

The worst thing we could do is have a worship time that is very impersonal, aloof, performance driven, and the like. It might also be a mistake to turn it into a time of textbook teaching on the doctrinal particulars. Kind of steals the life out of it...

Just my thoughts. Good topic.
I wasn't suggesting any kind of technical teaching, but rather mentoring and discipling a love of Jesus and encouraging them in worship. Olive has hit the heart of what I am trying to get us to think about. In my experience we have seen people come to Christ and have absolutely no idea of how to worship. They like the songs, yes but they sing and then start chatting between then. There is obviously more that we can do in encouraging them to develop. Our worship is not just about the Sunday morning meeting, we need to equip them to move into God's presence when there isn't a kickin' band.
Mark, I'm wondering if this is where small groups come in. It's a valuable resource for teaching how to pray together, and many small groups worship together as well on a more intimate level - usually just a guitar or even just acapella.

Lessons learned here would carry over into the corporate worship times perhaps.

I guess I'm thinking there's not much you can do from the stage on a Sunday morning on this issue, other than modeling it as a team, or having the pastor teach on it.
Wonderful topic but I would add here that worship is a thing of the heart (spirit) the bible says that they that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth. We dont teach even the new comers, holy spirit does that by himself. The difference is clear when we worship the true God, there is absolute joy, you may not even know when you will raise your hands, voice and all that is within you.
A great topic, and one that merits some discussion...I live in Myrtle Beach, the "entertainment" capital of South Carolina, and so much of what I have seen in local churches here is just entertainment. My wife and I have visited over *35* churches in our quest for a home here. Most churches have 3 songs, interrupted by a "welcome", then again by "announcements"...then a 4th "song" during the offering. I came from a church where we worshipped ~45 minutes in a set that lead the congregation from showing up to engagement to worship to commitment to celebration.

But there are certainly some things that can facilitate worship, especially with new believers...

1. Caught is better than Taught is right on. People need to see worship in action by the team, by the pastor.
2. Songs need to be sing-a-ble...John Wimber used to say you ought to be able to sing a song with a guitar in a small group. Many of the songs we hear now are productions (including flashing lights and smoke...what the heck does smoke add to worship?)
3. Make the key appropriate. My wife is a first Soprano, I'm more a Baritone/Tenor...we usually compromise on songs "around D"
4. Repetition helps people tune in and feel more comfortable
5. Avoid overly demonstrative worship leading. People who see genuine heart-felt worship will respond. People used to walk by the church and be drawn in by God's presence, and eventually they would just weep because we sang songs TO Him and not just ABOUT Him.
6. Have small groups and incorporate worship in them. Encourage people to raise their hands and say "up Daddy".
Carl, maybe the smoke is a throwback to burnt offerings...honestly I haven't got a clue; never seen it done in a church setting before!
That is a great topic. My own short answer is lead by example. It is hard to do if you play an instrument as I have done, but it is the best way.

As a pastor and having led worship for a long time I have seen a glaring mistake that worship leaders have made (as in myself), and that is to chastise or push too hard for the congregation to get more charismatic in the way they worship.

Consider having slow segments in your music where you will lift your hands and let someone else play their instrument if you have someone else, or sing acapella. With faster songs, have a segment where you clap your hands, taking a break from your instrument. Encourage people at some point between the songs to kneel, or to clap, or to lift hands or express themselves.

If you are in a church that does not believe in worshiping in the demonstrative manners such as the way charismatics, pentecostals, So. Baptists, etc, encourage them to sing, or spend a few seconds between songs to reflect.

If you are in that type of church and you ARE the more charismatic type, be careful that you are one with your pastor and his philosophy of ministry, and pray to make sure you are in the right church.

At any rate, Leading people in worship takes incredible patience. Don't push too hard. Always be positive and lead by example, encouraging with Scripture and a smile on your face.

Hope this helps,
Mike Miller

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